The Mid-Autumn Festival, also popularly known as the ‘Full-Moon Festival’ is a cultural, traditional festival of Viet Nam. The celebration is held on the 15th day of the Eighth Lunar month every year. As a legend has it – on this occasion, the moon is brighter and is much more significant in size, than during any other given time of the year.
Vietnamese people usually organize different activities under the moonlight during this event, such as the lantern ceremony, lion dance, folk dancing, plus a variety of fun, traditional games.
There is no historical documentation as to how the celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival begun. According to an old tale, the Mid-Autumn Festival started with the Duong Dynasty, during the reign of Due Ton, in the Van Minh year. That year, on one clear, full moon night in August, the King met a white-haired stranger while taking a stroll in the area.
The stranger created a dazzling rainbow, stretching all the way from the Moon to the Earth. Once the King climbed the rainbow, he was able to reach the beautifully lush and mysterious moon. However, when the King returned to the Earth, he felt nostalgic and begun missing that magical moon. Finally, in order to revive that experience, he decided to start a celebration on the 15th day of the 8th Lunar month, calling it ‘The Mid-Autumn Festival’.
Children in particular, are very excited about this festival, since it is dedicated to bringing joy, as well as to giving presents, such as star lanterns, masks, baked rice cakes, and many more. Fruits and confectionery specialties shaped in a form of animals are also made, in addition to other fun, and exciting shapes.
The atmosphere during the festival’s night is enjoyable, illuminated by a moonlight, it is filled with laughter, great food, children songs, amusing games, colorful lanterns, and various kinds of candles. On the evening of the festival, family members have an opportunity to gather together and enjoy various specialties while gazing at the moon.
In fact, Vietnamese people have a saying: “Mid-Autumn is the festival for family reunion”. This celebration unites family members and gathers all at the dinner table – brothers and sisters, parents and grandparents, uncles and aunts.
Moon-cakes made of meat, eggs, peanuts, flavored and dried fruits, are one of the famous specialties made during the festival. These cakes symbolize luck, happiness, health and wealth. Furthermore, families also prepare numerous traditional dishes to worship their ancestors and enjoy them later. They usually include candies, biscuits, jellies, grapefruits, apples, mangos and many more.
Although the ‘Full-Moon Festival’ has been celebrated for thousands of years, Vietnamese people still rejoice and honor it as a genuinely significant and unique traditional legacy, from the Duong Dynasty. Most Vietnamese families who have migrated overseas, thousands of miles away from their homelands, continue this ancient tradition of celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival, while reminding children of their origin and their cultural heritage.